Weightlifting legend Naim Süleymanoğlu dies at age 50
Multiple World and Olympic weightlifting champion Naim Süleymanoğlu has died at the age of 50 after having been placed into intensive care at the Ataşehir Memorial in Istanbul, Turkish media said Saturday, Daily Sabah reports.
Bulgarian-born Suleymanoglu was admitted to the Memorial Atasehir Hospital on Sept. 28 due to liver failure caused by cirrhosis and underwent a liver transplant on Oct. 6. He remained in intensive care following a brain hemorrhage and underwent further surgery on Nov. 11, according to a medical statement.
The now 50-year-old athlete, nicknamed "Pocket Hercules" due to his short stature, became a global star after setting six world records, winning three Olympic gold medals and out lifting the winner of the weight class above him at the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games.
Although Suleymanoglu set his first world record when he was 15, he missed his first chance at Olympic success in 1984 when Bulgaria joined the Soviet boycott of the Los Angeles games. After winning the world championship in 1988, he retired at the age of 22. However, he returned in 1991 to win a second Olympic gold at Barcelona in 1992.
Four years later, he finally retired after winning a third Olympic gold in Atlanta. In 2000 and 2004 he was elected to the International Weightlifting Federation Hall of Fame. He was awarded the Olympic Order, the highest award of the Olympic movement, in 2001.
Süleymanoğlu is the only weightlifter in history to win gold medals in three different Olympics.